BAKERSFIELD, Calif. — According to the Kern County District Attorney's Office and the Kern County Sheriff's Office, 39 offenders were released without bail following a statewide mandate.
Earlier this month, the California Judicial Council adopted a series of Emergency Rules of Court, including a rule that created a mandatory, statewide bail schedule that reduced bail to zero dollars for many criminal offenses. The Kern County DA's office said that after review, it found 39 offenders who met the requirement for no bail.
These individuals were released with promises to appear at their next scheduled court date.
“Under this new mandate, the presumptive bail on many crimes is set to zero dollars. We are empowering officers to seek increased bail on particularly dangerous offenders by bringing their concerns to a judge, who can still require a higher bail, even on offenses that fall under this mandate," said District Attorney Cynthia Zimmer. "By working with our partners in law enforcement, we will continue to do everything in our authority to limit dangerous and predatory criminals from being released back onto our streets.”
The order from the Judicial Council has several exceptions to zero-bail, including all serious and violent offenses and looting offenses, but there are nonetheless several crimes that would qualify for zero bail that are concerning, including child abuse, elder abuse, and the violation of public health orders. Additional crimes qualifying for zero-bail include resisting arrest, reckless evasion of a peace officer while driving a vehicle, and possession of stolen property offenses.
Whether new arrestees are released on zero-bail will depend on the crimes for which they are arrested, and whether a judge asserts the authority to order a higher bail.
“This order forces us to implement a statewide bail schedule that doesn’t take into account a suspect’s criminal history, resistance to arrest or danger to the community, and creates a ‘catch and release’ system for many felony offenses," said Kern County Sheriff Donny Youngblood. "The order was unnecessary, as Sheriffs across the state have already implemented procedures to address the threat of Covid-19 while securing public safety.”